Name: Jessa Campbell
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jessa Campbell. I grew up in Fort Wayne, and I decided to stay here for college. Then I had the great opportunity to work for Visit Fort Wayne and keep growing here. I’m currently their Marketing and Communications Manager, so I really get to celebrate and champion our community every day.
For my job, I often talk to travel writers, and time and time again when they see our city, they always comment on our hospitality, and the quality of our attractions, like the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Everything we do in Fort Wayne is high quality, and it shows in our passion for our community.
How long have you lived in Fort Wayne? My entire life.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love all of the natural aspects of our city, but yet, we still get the benefits of urban life! We have tree-lined streets and amazing parks, and our three rivers are connected to our downtown’s attractions like dining, shopping, and activities. It’s the best of both worlds.
Where to stay: Stay at home for now. If you’d like to visit, please come to Fort Wayne after COVID-19, and stay at one of our local hotels. The hospitality industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, so they could really use some love.
Expert tip: Get outside the home responsibly, and get some fresh air. That’s what helps ground me and make me feel like I’m not going crazy. As much as you can safely get outside, do so. Take the chance to explore attractions like Promenade Park and the Fort Wayne Trails.
What would you do with 24 hours in Fort Wayne (during the COVID-19 shutdown)?
Start your day with a virtual yoga class.
Something I do first thing in the morning is yoga, and we have some great yoga communities in Fort Wayne that are coming together and doing virtual yoga sessions during COVID-19.
I love Fusion Yoga and Pure Movement Pilates Studio myself. Fusion has been doing free Instagram live yoga sessions, and starting April 1, they’re offering classes online to purchase. Pure Movement is offering virtual classes, too.
Get some food in you!
I am not a coffee drinker, but some of my coworkers have said that coffee shops like Mocha Lounge and United Coffee are still open for drive-through and carry out business.
We have a great resource in Fort Wayne called 2GoFW, which is a Facebook group where you can find a list of all the local restaurants that are still open and see their hours. If you do venture out of the house, check that list before you go.
That said, a safer option might be ordering your coffee online from a local shop and making it at home. Utopian Coffee offers coffee subscriptions that are shipped to your doorstep, as well as free videos on its Instagram account to help you become a better at-home barista.
Creative Women of the World in downtown Fort Wayne also sells fair trade coffee that can be shipped to your door for free. And of course, Old Crown Coffee Roasters has a great selection that you can order online.
A homemade breakfast always does the trick, too.
Once you’re finished eating, find a creative way to get your mindset ready for the day. Being at home all day can be stressful if you’re not a homebody, so take some time to do some coloring or journaling.
If you’re looking for crafts to try, The Hedge is a local print shop offering at-home art kits for everything from embroidery/needlepoint to linoleum printing. Purchasing one of these kits is a great way to support local business and keep your stress levels low at the same time.
The Hedge in Fort Wayne is selling at-home craft kits.
Take a virtual tour.
Check out Arts United’s Facebook page where they’re sharing free, at-home local arts and cultural experiences from several area organizations. This is an inspiring way to start your day, and plan some fun experiences to keep in touch with the local arts and culture scene during the COVID-19 shutdown.
As for tours, you might want to start with a free tour of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. You can also check out the work of local artists on Instagram by following @artthiswayfw, who has started reposting the work of a different Fort Wayne artist every day.
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art is offering free virtual tours on its website.
For a full list of virtual tour opportunities, see point number 5 on this Visit Fort Wayne blog.
If you have kids, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo also offers a “View our Animals” page to take a virtual tour of its creatures and learn facts about them, too.
You can still see the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's animals online.
Don Hall’s Gas House in downtown Fort Wayne is offering a pop-up grocery store called Water Street Mercantile inside its usual restaurant space. If you need to get groceries, visiting this store is a great way to support a local restaurant group in a time of need and get some fresh local produce for meals.
Water Street Mercantile is a pop-up, de-facto grocery store inside the Don Hall's Gas House at 305 E. Superior St.
Do some online shopping.
Whenever visitors come to town, we encourage them to visit our locally owned shops in downtown Fort Wayne, and if you’re stuck at home during COVID-19, you can still do some local shopping. As many shops have had to close for the pandemic, shopping online or buying gift cards to use in the future is a great way to give these businesses some cashflow.
Throughout the day, I usually take a little break and go on Instagram to see what our local shops are up to.
Fancy & Staple and the Find are usually promoting fun ways to engage with them from home.
For a full list of downtown shops and boutiques to support during COVID-19, check out this list by the Downtown Improvement District or this one by Visit Fort Wayne.
The Urban Hippie women's clothing and accessories shop in downtown Fort Wayne is offering online sales.
If you’re in need of an afternoon pick me up, a few local dessert shops are offering delivery.
I’m a big cookie fan, so Cookie Cottage is one of my go-tos, and you can get their cookies shipped to your door by the box.
You can also still order from DeBrand Fine Chocolates online (shipments are delayed until 4/7). After all, who doesn’t need a little chocolate in this situation? DeBrand’s dark chocolate raspberry truffle is my favorite.
Learn something new.
Being stuck at home is a great opportunity to learn something, and the Allen County Public Library has lots of free resources you can access with your library card.
The ACPL is home to the nation’s second-largest genealogy center, and now that we’re under quarantine, they’re offering online classes about how to use their databases, so you can do some family history research from the comfort of your home. If you’ve been wanting to learn about your family history and haven’t found time yet, this is your chance. You might even want to set up a free Zoom call with your relatives to gather some information from them first.
The Allen County Public Library is home to the nation’s second-largest genealogy center.
If you’re not into genealogy, the library also offers digital books you can rent on its website, as well as free access to thousands of video workshops by artists of all mediums and techniques on creativebug.com.
Udemy.com is another free resource you can access with your library card that has more than 4,000 online video courses to boost your skills in business, technology and personal development.
There’s no shortage of ways to get your brain moving and stay productive. There are even virtual storytime sessions for kids posted on the ACPL’s Facebook page.
If you have any questions, you can always Ask a Librarian, too.
Take a walk or bike ride.
Keeping a safe social distance, take some time to explore Fort Wayne’s parks and trails. While playgrounds are currently closed, you can still, walk, bike, or even play a round of golf at the park. You can also hop on a bike and hit the trails (check out a map here).
Haven’t been to the new riverfront Promenade Park yet? Here’s your chance.
Promenade Park in downtown Fort Wayne opened in August 2019.
Luckily, Fort Wayne has a lot of parks for you to choose from.
For a full list, check out the Parks and Recreation Department’s website.
Cook a homemade dinner.
Put that fresh produce you bought to use by cooking a meal at home tonight. Personally, I love any meal with salad, chicken, and of course, cookies. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for baked chicken and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, too.
Enjoy a local performance.
Just because you can’t attend a live event doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of Fort Wayne’s local music. Many of the area’s musicians are offering livestream concerts on their Facebook pages. There’s even a movement called Fort Wayne Bar Aid where musicians are hosting virtual concerts to raise money for local bars and venues, as a way to help support their staff now that live events are canceled.
Join Fort Wayne Bar Aid’s public Facebook group to learn when these concerts will be taking place from March 26-April 5. Then tune in, and give back.
Fort Wayne Bar Aid is a livestream concert movement to support local venues and their staff.
If you don’t know many local musicians yet, this is a great opportunity to discover them, too. Check out Visit Fort Wayne’s Made in Fort Wayne, Indiana playlist on Spotify to get started.
If you’re more into classical music, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic is also offering virtual performances on its Facebook page, where its musicians are asked to submit a video of themselves playing from home and talk about their favorite things in the upcoming concert season.
Watch a movie.
The Cinema Center downtown may not be open for film screenings during COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch an indie flick from the comfort of your couch. The theatre recently announced a new virtual experience, allowing you to stream its movies online, and give back to the Cinema Center at the same time.
Visit its website to see what’s showing tonight.
Plan for the future.
End your day on a high note by taking some time to think about all the fun things you want to do in Fort Wayne when life gets back to the new normal. Sometimes, you don’t realize how much you enjoy something until it’s gone. Reflecting on your favorite places to visit around town and planning to visit them again in the future is a good way to keep your spirits up.
So plan a night out, or book a ticket to a concert or event this fall. After all, many of the events at the Embassy Theatre and the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum are being rescheduled for the fall now. Claim your ticket today, and start planning what you can do to celebrate once we get through this.